Texas Congressman Ron Paul beat out top Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in a straw poll for the second time this year.

Nearly 18 percent of Republicans voted for Rep. Paul in the straw poll conducted at a GOP Convention in Sacramento on Saturday.

He was followed by former governor Mitt Romney, who received 10.9 percent of the vote and 2010 president candidate Sarah Palin, who received 7.9 percent of the vote. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich came in fourth place, with 6.9 percent of the vote.

The informal survey was conducted by the libertarian-leaning Republican Liberty Caucus of California (RLCCA).

"Given that Congressman Paul and the RLC share a common commitment to individual rights, limited government, free enterprise and constitutional principles we are happy with the results," RLCCA Chairman John Dennis said. "In these times of big government and even bigger deficits, it is exciting to see increased conservative interest in candidates such as Paul."

The results of the RLCCA poll reflect another presidential straw poll conducted at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February, where Paul took 30 percent of the vote, followed by Mitt Romney with 23 percent.

Paul describes himself as a libertarian and is hardly the party's typical standard bearer.

He has said his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan give him an edge over other Republicans and could help him defeat President Barack Obama in a national election.

At CPAC, Paul drew thunderous applause for bashing the Patriot Act, US aid to foreign nations, and US military bases overseas during his speech. The conservative group Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) later announced that he would be expelled from the group's National Advisory Board because of his "delusional and disturbing alliance with the fringe Anti-War movement."